21 Campaigns That Should Snare Lions at Cannes


Nike, “Jogger”

• Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Giving Usain Bolt an unlikely run for his money during the 2012 Olympics was Nathan Sorrell, a 230-pound 12-year-old from London, Ohio. His painful jog along a country road at dawn signified the greatness in all of us, as we fight our own demons far from the bright lights of the stadium.


Channel 4, “Meet the Superhumans”

• Agency: 4Creative, London
The British TV network blew viewers away with this spot for its Paralympic Games coverage, mixing brutal action footage from Paralympic sports with glimpses of the athletes' origin stories—war, accidents, genetic disorders. A tale of furious redemption, it was superhuman indeed.


Old Spice, “Muscle Music”

• Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
What do you get when you hook up Terry Crews's muscles to electrodes leading to snare drums, bass drums, tom-toms, tambourines, a guitar, a bike horn, a woodblock and three saxophones? A raucous good time. You could even play along and record Muscle Music of your own.


Coca-Cola, “Small World Machines”

• Agency: Leo Burnett, Sydney, Australia
Can Coke "open happiness" between India and Pakistan? This campaign took a small step toward doing so by setting up connected vending machines in each country with webcams and giant touchscreen monitors—and inviting passersby to interact with the people through the digital window.


Red Bull, “Red Bull Stratos”

• Agency: Riedel Communications, Wuppertal, Germany
The most spectacular brand stunt in human history? It may well be Felix Baumgartner's leap to Earth from the edge of space last October—brought to you by Red Bull. Enormously successful, it was a master class in great content marketing, sponsorship and PR.


UTEC, “Potable Water Generator”

• Agency: Mayo Draftfcb, Lima, Peru
Lima gets half an inch of rainfall per year, yet the atmospheric humidity is around 98 percent. Draftfcb and UTEC, an engineering and technology university, devised a brilliant solution to this problem—a billboard that draws moisture from the air and turns it into drinking water.


Water Is Life, “Hashtag Killer”

• Agency: DDB, New York
Haitians, many of them orphans, recited actual tweets that Americans jokingly marked with the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems in this powerful humanitarian campaign. Third-world countries, of course, would love to have such problems, but will settle for clean water at the very least.


JFK Presidential Library, “Clouds Over Cuba”

• Agency: The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.
This immensely detailed and immersive interactive presentation collected audio, video and other data to explain, in vivid detail, the tense October 1962 standoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that brought the world perilously close to nuclear conflict.


Kayak, “Roommates”

• Agency: Barton F. Graf 9000, New York
A pair of roommates get uncomfortably close when searching for great travel deals in this loony Kayak spot, part of a quirky, long-running campaign. The moral of the story? Wear a smaller sweater when you're surfing the web, or improve your intra-sweater jousting skills.


Southern Comfort, “Whatever’s Comfortable: Beach”

• Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, New York
The coolest advertising character of the past year has to be Southern Comfort's immensely comfortable, Speedo-wearing beach-goer. One look at him and you know you're in the presence of royalty. Whatever other brands might claim, this may be the most interesting man in the world.


Jeep, “GPS to Get Lost”

• Agency: Leo Burnett, Buenos Aires, Argentina
GPS can guide you to homes, businesses and points of interest. But what if you'd rather travel to the middle of nowhere? This Jeep software led drivers to 28 beautiful and remote spots, with a programmed voice giving them a pep talk along the way about the joys of leaving their troubles behind.


Carlton Draught, “Beer Chase”

• Agency: Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne, Australia
Nothing's better than an inspiringly stupid beer ad. And Carlton Draught made a great one here, as four guys flee from police in a low-speed chase—one that takes place entirely on foot, so they don't drink and drive. The tagline, "Made from beer," completes the wonderfully half-witted spot.


Prime TV, “Secret Life of a Call Girl”

• Agency: Draftfcb, New Zealand
Radio DJs do a lot of pranking. This campaign turned the tables. An actress pretended to be a call girl in a house window opposite a major radio station. The DJs spent three days talking about it. But on the fourth day, she held up a sign advertising a TV show, Secret Diary of a Call Girl.


Ragú, “A Long Day of Childhood”

• Agency: Barton F. Graf 9000, New York
Childhood seems like a carefree time. In fact, it's pure hell. This shrewd, amusing campaign captured that truth—and presented Ragú as the ultimate comfort food—in various fun executions, from a kid walking in on his parents having sex to a spot starring the brothers from "Charlie Bit Me."


St. John Ambulance, “Helpless”

• Agency: BBH, London
A man survives cancer only to die senselessly from choking on food in this shocking spot from Britain—a stark reminder that simple first-aid knowledge can be as critical as much more heralded medical care. Few "gotcha" PSAs are as expertly executed as this one.


ESPN, “Team Spirit”

• Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, New York
They say being a sports fan is a lifelong commitment—but in fact, it's more than that. Errol Morris shot this short documentary about one of the oddest topics around: fans who take their favorite teams with them to the grave through sports-themed wakes, burials and cremations.


Oreo, “Oreo Daily Twist”

• Agency: Draftfcb, New York
Conceptually strong and executionally brilliant, this campaign produced a daily image in which Oreo cookies illustrated a current-events story or historical anniversary tied to that date—everything from the opening of the 2012 Olympics to the 1969 moon landing.


Dove, “Real Beauty Sketches”

• Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, São Paulo, Brazil
The runaway viral success of 2013 so far, this campaign used a criminal sketch artist to draw women as they described themselves, and as other people described them. The differences are stark—a potent reminder to women that they're more beautiful than they think.


Intel, “The Beauty Inside”

• Agency: Pereira & O'Dell, San Francisco
Intel and Toshiba built this six-part social film around a man who wakes up every day as someone new. The great premise—Alex is played by different actors and by fans in webcam recordings—and skillful execution made this one of the year's top interactive campaigns.


Axe, “Susan Glenn”

• Agency: BBH, New York
Beautiful, sophisticated, artful—wait, this is an Axe ad? Yes it is. And it was one of last year's most evocative spots. Peter Rosch's poetic copy, Ringan Ledwidge's dreamlike visuals and Kiefer Sutherland's rich narration combined to produce a wonderful ode to the proverbial girl who got away.


Metro Trains Melbourne, “Dumb Ways to Die”

• Agency: McCann, Melbourne, Australia
Adorable blobs make the stupidest decisions—messing with animals, sticking forks in toasters, etc.—and are thus felled by gruesome, fatal accidents in this brilliant PSA, which also features one of the catchiest songs ever. But the dumbest way to die, it suggests? Being careless around trains.

Recommended articles